The Blackwater Valley Opera Festival, art exhibitions at Lismore Castle and the Waterford Garden Trail have all helped to rejuvenate Lismore and the Blackwater Valley. One of the most popular draws in the region is St Carthage’s Cathedral in Lismore, which is in need of conservation work. St Carthage was founded as a centre of learning and pilgrimage in the 7th century. The crozier made for Lismore’s first bishop c. 1100 is now one of the treasures of the National Museum of Ireland.
The elegant cathedral sits above the Blackwater River and is an assortment of architectural styles from Romanesque to Neo-Gothic. The oldest parts of the present building date to the 13th century and the cathedral houses artifacts dating back to the 9th century (see article page 124).
Over 800 original works of art have been donated by artists, with artworks coming from as far afield as India
While significant restoration is required, the immediate consideration is to fundraise for ‘heat, light and sound’ to be installed so that the cathedral can function all year round for the community as a concert, exhibition or performing-arts venue, yet conserve its integrity as a place of worship.
Spearheaded by local Julia Keane, professional and amateur artists have created postcard-size artworks. Each work is anonymous and costs €50, with artists including Peter Curling, Dorothy Cross, Cormac Boydell, Tim Goulding and Hector McDonnell among the mix.
‘There has been a groundswell of interest and support,’ says Keane. ‘Over 800 original works of art have been donated by artists, with artworks coming from as far afield as India. We are very grateful too to have the support of the Tomar Trust, who have generously agreed to match funds up to €30,000.’ The artworks will be on display at Lismore Castle Arts gallery in October and the online sale follows on 6 November.
‘The cathedral has extraordinary natural acoustics – there is no indoor space in the surrounding area to equal it,’ says Keane. ‘And it has the capacity to seat up to 400 people. It is an important community and heritage asset that needs to be preserved for today’s and future generations.’